RFK Jr. denies eating a dog while sidestepping sexual assault allegations in Vanity Fair article

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has denied allegations made in a new Vanity Fair report that he had previously eaten a dog while sidestepping accusations of sexual assault levied by a former nanny in the magazine, saying, “I’m not a church boy.”

In an interview with the “Breaking Points” political podcast released Tuesday, Kennedy called the Vanity Fair article “a lot of garbage” but acknowledged that his past included “many skeletons in my closet.”

The article alleges that Kennedy texted a message to a friend last year that included a photograph that showed him pantomiming eating a cooked animal carcass. In the message, Kennedy reportedly recommended the friend try eating dog while traveling in Korea. Vanity Fair reported that the photo’s digital metadata shows it was taken in 2010 and that the publication consulted with a veterinarian who said the carcass in the photo appeared to be a dog’s.

Kennedy said the image depicted him eating a goat during a trip to South America.

“The article is a lot of garbage. The picture that they said is of me eating a dog, it’s actually me eating a goat in Patagonia on a whitewater trip many years ago on the Futaleufu River. They say … they have an expert that has identified that as a dog carcass. It’s just not true,” Kennedy said.

The Vanity Fair article also features Eliza Cooney, a former part-time babysitter who worked for Kennedy between 1998 and 1999, alleging that he groped her in his kitchen. Kennedy declined to directly acknowledge the sexual assault accusation at first, instead dismissing “the other allegations” as part of a “very, very rambunctious youth.”

“I’ve said this from the beginning. I am not a church boy. I am not running like that. I said … I had a very, very rambunctious youth. I said in my announcement speech that I have … so many skeletons in my closet, that if they could all vote, I could run for king of the world,” Kennedy said, adding, “Vanity Fair is recycling 30-year-old stories, and I, you know, am not gonna comment on the details of any of them.”

When asked directly whether he denied sexually assaulting Cooney, Kennedy repeated, “I’m not going to comment on it.”

In a social media post later Tuesday, Kennedy shared the image published by Vanity Fair of him allegedly holding a cooked dog and denied the photo depicted him eating a dog. He did not address the sexual assault allegations in the post.

“Hey @VanityFair, you know when your veterinary experts call a goat a dog, and your forensic experts say a photo taken in Patagonia was taken in Korea, that you’ve joined the ranks of supermarket tabloids,” Kennedy said. “Keep telling America that up is down if you want. I’ll keep talking about the fact that working families can’t afford houses or groceries because our last two presidents went on a $14 trillion debt joyride, paid for by hard-working Americans.”

The accusations made in the Vanity Fair article come at a trying time for Kennedy’s campaign as he seeks to expand his support across the country for his independent presidential bid. Kennedy is on the ballot in seven states but is facing opposition from Biden allies seeking to block his access in several more.

Recent polls have found Kennedy in a stagnant position against Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, respectively. A CNN poll released Tuesday found Kennedy earning 14% support in a multi-candidate race, behind Trump (41%) and Biden (35%). Those findings are roughly similar to a CNN poll released in November that showed Kennedy taking 16% compared with 41% for Trump and 35% for Biden.

The independent candidate also faces an uphill battle in fundraising after bringing in $2.6 million to his campaign in May and spending $6.3 million as he burns through funds in his push for ballot access.

Kennedy’s campaign has already weathered a series of unconventional headlines. In May, Kennedy detailed a medical abnormality he experienced in 2010 that he said was caused by a parasitic worm that entered his brain and died. Kennedy said the worm caused him to experience “brain fog” and trouble with “word retrieval and short-term memory,” but added that the issue has been resolved.

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